Why New Year’s resolutions don’t work … unless you do this one thing

It's almost that time of year again when we make New Year's resolutions. Here's why good intentions are doomed to fail and how to fix that by knowing your values.

There’s two parts of our brains. The first part is the conscious mind which is where we make all our decisions and come up with great ideas about what we want to become, achieve, have.

All of our goal setting happens in the conscious mind, then there’s another part of our brain—the unconscious, the subconscious—and this is where an even deeper set of goal setting and achieving is happening, and it’s very much connected to this thing called your values.

Your values are emotional states you want to experience on a regular basis. If your values match your goals—your goals being what you say you want consciously—your values are your unconscious emotional command centres that are going to move you towards achieving your values every single time.

If your values are out of alignment with your goals you will never achieve your goals.

So you have someone who values comfort and freedom, and they love feeling good all the time and not having pressure. They don’t value things like discipline and are moving away from that. They want to feel how they feel.

Then they have a goal, which for argument’s sake we’ll say is losing weight. They want to be in the best shape of their life. To have that goal, there are certain values that need to come with it.

To have really great health you have to value discipline. When you’re at work and people are bringing around the cakes and biscuits, you have to not just have discipline but value discipline over freedom or comfort to be able to say no to the cakes.

A lot of people don’t have the values they require to get to their goals. If you don’t value learning, you won’t progress. If you don’t value health, you won’t get fit. If you want to have a great relationship with other people, you have to value yourself.

We can only experience great relationships with others if we honour and love and respect ourselves. When I help people set goals, what I really care about is are your values aligned with your goals.

Ask yourself: what do you spend your time on the most, what do you think about the most, and where do you spend most money? Those are your values.

In my case, I check in and ask if the values I have in life are what I want, and are they going to propel me to achieve the goals I truly want and desire and know I can achieve in life, or do I need to upgrade my values?

Here’s a handful of values that rock, and I would encourage anyone to have them.

  • Value growth. Invest in yourself. The best investment we can make is the real estate between our ears. Learn new stuff all the time.
  • Value your health. How we value ourselves is how much we invest in our health. It’s about what we put into our bodies and I don’t mean food but energetically as well. Who do you hang around with? What information are you listening to? How much sleep are you getting?
  • Another major part of life that gives us meaning if we value it is contribution. Value making a difference by helping others. So many studies show that when we value making a difference, it gives us meaning lin life and makes us happier.


One of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend

Matt Lavars life coaching
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute